In an interview with Wired, the lead system architect on the next PlayStation console, Mark Cerny, confirmed that PS5 (naming still unconfirmed) will retain support for the current PSVR headset.
Sony revealed the first details of its upcoming console today in an exclusive interview with Wired. Therein, Mark Cerny, who has worked as the lead system architect on both PS4 and the next-gen PlayStation console, said that the upcoming system would feature a more powerful CPU and GPU, advanced audio processing, and radically faster mass storage.
When asked about PlayStation VR—which recently hit a 4.2 million unit milestone—Cerny for the first time confirmed that the company fully plans to support PSVR on the next-gen PlayStation console.
“I won’t go into the details of our VR strategy today, beyond saying that VR is very important to us and that the current PSVR headset is compatible with the new console,” Cerny told Wired’s Peter Rubin.
That’s great news for early adopters of PSVR (both players and developers), who will be able to plug their current headsets into the new system. Whether or not the entire back catalog of current PSVR games will be supported isn’t 100% confirmed, but the Wired interview does state that, “because [the new console is] based in part on the PS4’s architecture, it will also be backward-compatible with games for that console,” so there’s hope.
While Cerny wasn’t ready to say whether or not the company is planning a new PlayStation VR headset to go along with PS5 (or whatever Sony ends up calling their next-gen PlayStation console), considering the company’s year’s-long investment in building one of the most successful VR ecosystems out there, it seems likely they will want to continue. Nintendo’s recent dip into VR has likely only encouraged Sony further, along with the competitive advantage that PSVR has brought the company’s current consoles over Xbox.
PS5 will of course bring big performance improvements over PS4 and PS4 Pro, and that should mean a graphical leap for the current PSVR headset, even if a new one doesn’t launch with the console out of the gate. Though the present PSVR will still be limited by its relatively low resolution, throwing more graphical horsepower at anti-aliasing and more realistic graphics can have a night and day difference even on the same headset.
That extra power could also be used to raise the framerate bar from what most PSVR games target (60 FPS) to native 90 FPS or 120 FPS (which are also currently supported by the headset for games which are highly optimized). This will depend where Sony sets the bar in terms of the performance threshold that PSVR developers are expected to hit on PS5.
What’s more, if the company plans to release and upgraded PS Camera for the new console, current PSVR headsets could benefit as improved resolution and sensor performance could significantly improve tracking accuracy and latency.
Cerny confirms that the next-gen PlayStation console will use a custom AMD CPU (eight cores, based on third-gen Ryzen) and AMD GPU (based on Navi). The GPU will support accelerated ray-tracing which makes highly realistic lighting more practical, as well as other ray-traced functions like environmentally-aware spatial audio.
On the audio front, Cerny also says that the console will include a custom chip for 3D audio processing. This will enhance audio for traditional games, but ought to be especially useful for the immersion of PSVR.
The current PlayStation VR has a breakout box which handles a handful of functions for the headset, including 3D audio processing. Sony has in the past said it spent a lot of time creating a realistic spatial audio solution for the headset, and it’s quite possible that work is now getting incorporated wholly into PS5 with similar advanced audio processing right on-board.
A higher performing CPU and GPU are exciting, but Cerny says that one of the major leaps for the next-gen PlayStation console will be a super-fast SSD which will drastically reduce loading times. In the Wired article, author Peter Rubin describes a loading demonstration between a PS4 Pro and a next-gen prototype:
Cerny fires up a PS4 Pro playing Spider-Man, a 2018 PS4 exclusive that he worked on alongside Insomniac Games. […] On the TV, Spidey stands in a small plaza. Cerny presses a button on the controller, initiating a fast-travel interstitial screen. When Spidey reappears in a totally different spot in Manhattan, 15 seconds have elapsed. Then Cerny does the same thing on a next-gen devkit connected to a different TV. […] What took 15 seconds now takes less than one: 0.8 seconds, to be exact.
Such a huge improvement in I/O is great news for PlayStation games in general, but especially for VR where waiting around aimlessly in a headset while things load is especially bothersome.
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There’s more interesting details about Sony’s next-gen PlayStation in the full Wired interview, go check it out!